How Vitamin C Helps with Seasonal Allergies

How Vitamin C Helps with Seasonal Allergies

It’s springtime! While we want to be enjoying the warmer weather and longer days, for millions of people, spring means seasonal allergies. As trees and plants bloom, pollen counts rise, and we are exposed to more pollen when we breathe. The immune system responds to this rise in pollen with a strong reaction in someone who is sensitive.

If spring means a runny nose and watery eyes for you, keep reading to learn how vitamin C can help. Vitamin C is a safe and effective supplement that you can use on its own or in conjunction with other allergy treatment strategies. 

This article will answer many of your questions about vitamin C and seasonal allergies, including:  
  • What are seasonal allergies?
  • What is vitamin C?
  • How do vitamin C supplements help with seasonal allergies?
  • What is the best vitamin C dose for seasonal allergies? 
  • What is the best form of vitamin C to use? 

Let’s get started!

The Toll of Seasonal Allergies

Allergic rhinitis or hay fever are the names given to seasonal allergies that affect 20 to 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent of children in the United States. (Source 1)

Seasonal allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to allergens in the environment, mainly pollen, causing inflammation in the nasal passage and respiratory system. Pollen levels increase at certain times of the year, giving the seasonal aspect to this type of allergy. Other environmental allergens, such as dander and dust mites, cause similar symptoms and are considered perennial when they occur throughout the year. (Source 2)

Allergy symptoms include:
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sinus pressure and congestion
  • Watery eyes
  • Airway constriction
  • Sleep disruption (Source 1, 2)
Symptoms can interfere with work and school, affecting your quality of life. 

Seasonal allergies are increasing due in part to a changing climate, and the habitat expansion of certain pollen-producing plants. (Source 1, 2)

Several types of immune responses are associated with seasonal allergies. These include:
  • IgE antibodies, the type of antibody associated with allergic reactions
  • Increased inflammatory cytokines, or messengers, that promote inflammation
  • Increases in white blood cells in the respiratory system
  • Activation of mast cells and increased histamine production and histamine release (Source 2, 3, 4)

Standard treatment approaches for seasonal allergies include over-the-counter medications, including antihistamines. Due to the side effects of these medications, many people seek complementary treatment of allergies during allergy season. Vitamin C is a possible solution to explore. 

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that must be obtained in the diet from food, including kiwis, citrus fruits, broccoli, bell peppers, and strawberries. 

Vitamin C plays many essential roles in the body, including: 

  • Collagen synthesis
  • Carnitine synthesis
  • Catecholamine neurotransmitter synthesis 
  • Regulation of gene expression (Source 5)

Vitamin C is the primary water-soluble antioxidant in the body, helping to reduce oxidative stress and regenerate vitamin E. Vitamin C also has anti-inflammatory properties and is a natural antihistamine

Because of its profound health benefits to the immune system, vitamin C is supportive for allergic diseases, including seasonal allergies, asthma, and shortening the duration of the common cold. (Source 5)

Extreme vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, but minor deficiencies can impair immune function. Learn more about the role of vitamin C in immunity here

Vitamin C Supplements for Allergies

Because of the importance vitamin C plays in immune health, it is a helpful supplement for seasonal allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation and histamine levels. In fact, vitamin C deficiency may play a role in the development of allergies. (Source 6, 7

In a study of the effect of vitamin C on allergies, intravenous vitamin C was administered for two to three weeks for acute allergies or 11 to 12 weeks for chronic allergies. Reduction of allergy symptoms was seen in both groups. Notably, more than 50 percent of participants used vitamin C as their only allergy treatment, and benefits were seen regardless of medication use. (Source 6)

“Because of the importance vitamin C plays in immune health, it is a helpful supplement for seasonal allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation and histamine levels.”

In another study, participants received either a nasal steroid or a nasal steroid and antioxidants (including vitamin C) while researchers observed allergy symptoms. Those who received the antioxidants saw a significant improvement in symptoms compared to receiving the medication alone. (Source 8)

Vitamin C may be so effective because it has been shown to reduce the amount of histamine produced by mast cells. While antihistamine medications block the histamine receptors, vitamin C reduces the amount of histamine that gets into circulation in the first place. When histamine levels are high, it promotes inflammation, exacerbating allergy symptoms. (Source 6, 9

Several studies show the reduction of histamine levels in the blood after administration of vitamin C, either orally via a vitamin C supplement or an IV vitamin C infusion. (Source 9, 10)

Interestingly, many mammals have the ability produce their own vitamin C, but humans do not, and we must obtain it from our diet. In vitamin C-producing animals, when histamine levels rise, they produce more vitamin C to help bring levels back down and into balance. (Source 6)

Vitamin C Supplements

Vitamin C supplements are popular and have a strong safety profile at typical supplemental dosages. 

The RDA, or recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C is 100 to 200 mg per day. This is the minimum dose that’s recommended to get from the diet. Only around 10 mg per day are required to prevent scurvy. (Source 5)

But the RDA is designed to prevent deficiency, not necessarily optimize nutrient status and wellness.  

High doses, around 2000 mg (2 grams), are required to achieve optimal immune benefits from vitamin C supplements, including reducing histamine production. It is safe to dose vitamin C higher than this for further antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties. However, if you take too much vitamin C for your body, you may experience gastrointestinal side effects, including loose stools. 

Vitamin C is an antioxidant at supplemental dosages, but at much higher doses only possible through an IV, vitamin C becomes a pro-oxidant. This unique property of vitamin C is why high dose IV vitamin C is sometimes used in cancer therapies. (Source 11)

Vitamin C is water soluble. It is not stored in the body and excess will be excreted. Because of this it’s helpful to divide the vitamin C dose throughout the day to ensure a steady supply to the body. 

For seasonal allergies, doses at or above 2000 mg or 2 grams per day are recommended. 

Liposomal Vitamin C

One of the biggest complaints with vitamin C supplements, especially at therapeutic dosages, is GI side effects. The solution is liposomal vitamin C. 

In liposomal vitamin C, the vitamin C is surrounded by a liposome made from the same phosphatidylcholine molecules that compose the cells membranes in your body. (You can learn more about the other benefits of phosphatidylcholine here). 

Compared to a standard supplement, liposomal vitamin C is highly absorbable and bioavailable and can quickly raise vitamin C levels in the blood and in cells. It is often better tolerated, allowing for higher doses without stomach upset. It’s also a good option for those who don’t have access to IV therapy but would like to achieve the benefits of fast delivery of nutrients. 

Core Med Science’s Liposomal Vitamin C contains the gold-standard vitamin C (Quali-C) formula produced in Scotland with non-GMO vitamin C. It comes in a convenient liquid formula, and each teaspoon contains 1000 mg of vitamin C, making it easy to take two or three doses per day as needed. The same Core Med Science Liposomal Vitamin C formula is available in soft-gel capsules. Three capsules are a 1000 mg serving of vitamin C. 

“If you are one of the millions who suffer from seasonal allergies, year in and year out, make this spring different by including vitamin C in your daily routine.”

Sometimes the simplest strategies are the most effective and vitamin C is no exception. If you are one of the millions who suffer from seasonal allergies, year in and year out, make this spring different by including vitamin C in your daily routine. Vitamin C supports the immune system and is a powerful antioxidant and natural antihistamine. It can be used on its own or along with other allergy symptom treatments so you can go on with your life.  

References

  1. Hoyte, F., & Nelson, H. S. (2018). Recent advances in allergic rhinitis. F1000Research7, F1000 Faculty Rev-1333. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6107993/
  2. Small, P., Keith, P. K., & Kim, H. (2018). Allergic rhinitis. Allergy, asthma, and clinical immunology : official journal of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology14(Suppl 2), 51. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6156899/ 
  3. Naclerio R. M. (1990). The role of histamine in allergic rhinitis. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology86(4 Pt 2), 628–632. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1977783/ 
  4. Branco, A., Yoshikawa, F., Pietrobon, A. J., & Sato, M. N. (2018). Role of Histamine in Modulating the Immune Response and Inflammation. Mediators of inflammation2018, 9524075. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6129797/ 
  5. Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Vitamin C. Accessed 4/7/22. 
  6. Vollbracht, C., Raithel, M., Krick, B., Kraft, K., & Hagel, A. F. (2018). Intravenous vitamin C in the treatment of allergies: an interim subgroup analysis of a long-term observational study. The Journal of international medical research46(9), 3640–3655. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6136002/ 
  7. Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients9(11), 1211. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5707683/  
  8. Chauhan, B., Gupta, M., & Chauhan, K. (2016). Role of antioxidants on the clinical outcome of patients with perennial allergic rhinitis. Allergy & rhinology (Providence, R.I.)7(2), 74–81. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010436/ 
  9. Branco, A., Yoshikawa, F., Pietrobon, A. J., & Sato, M. N. (2018). Role of Histamine in Modulating the Immune Response and Inflammation. Mediators of inflammation2018, 9524075. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6129797/ 
  10. Hagel, A. F., Layritz, C. M., Hagel, W. H., Hagel, H. J., Hagel, E., Dauth, W., Kressel, J., Regnet, T., Rosenberg, A., Neurath, M. F., Molderings, G. J., & Raithel, M. (2013). Intravenous infusion of ascorbic acid decreases serum histamine concentrations in patients with allergic and non-allergic diseases. Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's archives of pharmacology386(9), 789–793. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23666445/ 
  11. Yin, X., Chen, K., Cheng, H., Chen, X., Feng, S., Song, Y., & Liang, L. (2022). Chemical Stability of Ascorbic Acid Integrated into Commercial Products: A Review on Bioactivity and Delivery Technology. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland)11(1), 153. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8773188/ 
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